CHAMPAIGN — Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District officials are examining whether they will be able to raze and rebuild a 36-year-old bus garage in east Urbana that they say is undersized.
"We have a potential window of opportunity for state funding," MTD Managing Director Bill Volk said Wednesday after the monthly MTD board meeting.
"I'm told that (the Illinois Department of Transportation) will release about $50 million for capital projects for urban areas downstate.
"We have been looking at what to do with 801 (E. University Ave.), and we're now looking into potential architectural drawings and square footage, and developing a budget should IDOT release some funds that we would be able to compete for."
Volk said the garage at 801 E. University Ave. has a capacity of 40 buses. Another garage to the east has space for 60 buses.
"I'd like to be able to get up to a capacity of 120, 130 (buses)," he said.
The garage at 801 E. University Ave. was built for $1.2 million in the early 1970s. Volk said he had no idea how much a new, more spacious facility would cost.
The original garage was built soon after Volk became director of the MTD, and a potential new facility could be under construction during his last months at the agency.
Volk has said he plans to retire in June 2014.
"If everything went well, we might be able to start this project next summer," Volk said.
In addition to an inadequate size, Volk said, the garage would have to be remodeled to handle the taller hybrid buses that the MTD now operates. Eventually all of the agency's fleet will be hybrid buses.
"We would have to do serious renovation, and it really doesn't lend itself to that," he said.
Also Wednesday, the MTD board scheduled a study session for 5:30 p.m. Sept. 17 to begin planning for how to go about hiring a replacement for Volk.
The study session will be held at the MTD's administrative offices at 1101 E. University Ave., U.
It will be open to the public.
Volk said the MTD's customer count in July established a new record with 447,178 riders, up from 401,883 in July 2011.
The MTD will not set a record this month, he said, because the University of Illinois started classes five days later this year than last.
Still, ridership on the first day of classes this year was 54,035, up from 47,060 last year.